My first urban garden was a 5x3 foot weed pit behind my rented duplex. With my landlady’s permission, I dug out the weeds and threw the coffee grounds from my french press and some organic compost into the dirt. My mission was simple: salsa ingredients, hopefully enough for a few jars….
“I planted this illegal vegetable garden in Brooklyn and documented the experience.” (via Video of an illegal vegetable gardener - Boing Boing)
My favorite comment:
MrJM Yesterday 07:24 PM
I planted this illegal vegetable garden in Brooklyn and documented the experience.
Thank God someone is finally documenting the Brooklyn experience!
But seriously — good on this cat.
It always seems strange that with such incessant rhetoric from our imperious leaders that they fail to implement such simple mechanics when attempting to drive forward such monumental changes to operations of politics and society. The Big Society ambitions that the coalition wants to drive to fruition are coherent and idealised but don’t you feel that if they actually went out and physically did things in their constituencies that people would seize on this example of leadership and empowerment?
An unforeseen and somewhat misdirected beginning that may be, but to very quintessentially demonstrate this point we have made an observation this autumn and (every other of recent memory) of the lunacy and counter-productive behaviour of public services: this being leaf clearance.
As the leaves turn to an impossible red and fall to the ground, the minions of local government potter around clearing them up and incomprehensibly putting them into plastic bags. These plastic bags are then duly left (as per the photo that heads this post) to be collected by rubbish collectors. Having queried where these bags then go from a street sweeper, he instructed that they are taken to be burnt. Brilliant. Now this short paragraph has so many impossible conflicts of duty and manifesto that it would be beyond this post to list them all, so we’ll leave you to decipher them directly.
We shall not dwell on this approach but shall proffer a remedy, instead of burning what nature provides as fertilizer and then providing mulch and compost at additional expense to the tax payer, why not create a compost heap in the corner of each park? We’re sure the cost could be offset by the no-longer-necessary provision of natural fertilizer to the populace. People could be employed (fancy that…) by the council to accumulate this natural wonder and deposit it thus, gaining know-how, and disseminating this knowledge locally.
We’re afraid that the current backward lunacy will be the undoing of initiatives which are inherently positive, if not enforced for merely cost-cutting reasons.
Taking this a step further forward, here are our 3 ideas for ways to simply get everyone pulling in the same direction:
1. Green local business.
Set simple targets (i.e. reduce carbon emissions by 30% within 1 year OR install a green roof/solar panels to your business) and for the businesses that do, don’t give them tax breaks, rather give them marketing visibility that gives them additional sales. For example, the local government should provide a full page ad in the local newspaper, or our fave, the Government should own the 5min slot on Channel 4 every evening.
Reward them for doing something great and you see if others don’t follow.
2. Pilot empowerment. Not a flying school for the enthusiastic but an idea to get kids dreaming…
Deliver webcasts live into schools and colleges from hubs of industry and creativity. The lead architect from Foster and Partners who designed London’s City Hall, the pilot of a plane who flew missions in Libya, or any one of the winning teams from the engineering awards 2010.
Get them thinking and they will aim, they will progress and they will inadvertently make the UK a recession retardant intellectual hub for generations.
3. Make libraries the centre for growing/gardening/GYO information.
Libraries offer much that people have forgotten; they also offer a setting in the heart of a community. One of the most frequent reasons why people don’t even grow a little for themselves is because of the perceived difficulty in doing so – libraries could disentangle this myth and provide a personable human with which to deliver this service (more employment…!) This would be available to all and, in time, open to visits, seminars, best-in-practice events..ah the list could go on.
Come on D-cam, lets ‘av ya!
Nature, your offspring may have devoured all my French Beans had to offer, yes I fought a running battle with Squirrels to see who could obtain the most fruit (they won) and yes the soil and restraints I provided were weak, but I shall now take you head on and face you at your sternest; Winter.
I want to see how far I get. It might be a bold move, it might also be irrational but then there is potentially delicious, fresh produce at the end of it so I feel I have nothing to lose.
I’m going to throw in the following:
- Broad Beans (Super Aquadulce)
- Hardy lettuce (Arctic King)
- Purple sprouting broccoli
- Onions (Shakespeare)
- Garlic (Early Wight)
The most interesting bit is that I don’t really have a garden. I have a small section of raised bedding and an odd collection of pots and containers. But then I like a challenge.
This is the space in front of my house:
(I have many more containers now…)
And this is the rear raised section:
The resources I’m looking to are numerous and each profer a confident passion for year-round sustainability and self preservation. If only to avoid the homogeny of the high street as much as possible. Armed with my war-time rhetoric, my naivety and my hunger I will sally forth to see what my efforts can conjure.
Some great reading on the subject lives here:
- How to Grow Winter and Spring Vegetables http://bbc.in/n75JD2
- Top 10 vegetables to grow over winter - Telegraph http://tgr.ph/nDiqoZ
- Growing Winter Vegetables | iGrowVeg http://bit.ly/oUVzHI
- Hardy winter vegetables / Royal Horticultural Society http://bit.ly/qqMRtY
And no list would be complete without a Guardian post…
- Dan Pearson shows you how to grow winter veg | The Observer http://bit.ly/oaCE9f
Bring it on I say.